Elderly people due to receive a coronavirus vaccine in snow-hit parts of Britain today have been urged to rebook after NHS officials told them there was ‘no need to risk travelling in the bad weather’.
Parts of northern England and Scotland woke up to heavy snowfall this morning with more wintry weather now forecast for the weekend and into next week as temperatures plunge well below freezing.
Up to a foot (30cm) of snow is expected on high ground today with overnight temperatures falling to -7C (19F) in eastern England and the wind chill making it feel even colder, while Scotland could drop to -12C (10F).
North East England was badly hit by flurries today with at least 2in (5cm) falling, while snow also caused delays for drivers in West Yorkshire and heavy rain resulted in flooding on motorways around Greater Manchester.
Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is operating one of England’s seven mass vaccination centres at the Centre for Life in the city, has urged the elderly to rebook to their jabs to avoid the treacherous conditions.
A trust spokesman said today: ‘We’re advising older people who are booked for their Covid-19 vaccine at the Centre for Life today to rebook for another day when the weather is better. It’s easy to do by calling 119.’
One resident of Bradford claimed Royal Mail said it could not deliver his post because his home was ‘inaccessible’, while the Met Office said 4in (11cm) of snow had already fallen in Perth and Kinross area by 9am. It comes as:
- The Environment Agency imposed more than 100 flood alerts and warnings across England;
- Flooding hit motorways in Greater Manchester including the M62 and deluged a pub in Kent;
- Heavy snow is expected to continue until at least 9pm tonight before returning on Saturday;
- Southern parts of England were hit by heavy rain and sleet is possible in London this weekend.
An amber weather warning covering parts of eastern Scotland, County Durham and Northumberland was in force until the mid-morning, amid fears of a second ‘Beast from the East’ this winter in the coming weeks.
Severe conditions were seen across West Yorkshire in the likes of Huddersfield, Halifax, Leeds and Bradford following multiple crashes on roads in the snow, with traffic very slow on the M6, A57 and A672.
In Greater Manchester, there was heavy congestion after traffic was stopped on the M62 as heavy rain battered the region with queues stretching along two junctions due to bumps and stranded vehicles.
Snow and ice is predicted through today down the length of the Pennines as far south as the Peak District, in Cumbria and the North York Moors, where a lesser, yellow weather warning applies until 9pm tonight.
The rest of England will see heavy rainfall, particularly in London and the South East, while Wales and Northern Ireland will stay mostly dry. Tomorrow will bring a foggy start with most areas becoming dry and bright later.
More than 100 parts of England are on flood watch, with the Environment Agency issuing 94 alerts and 17 warnings – while the Fenn Bell Inn pub in Hoo, Kent, was deluged after nearly a foot of water flooded inside.
Two people push a stranded car on a snowy road in West Yorkshire today as motorists drive through Pool-in-Wharfedale
A woman pushes a shopping trolley through snow in Hexham, Northumberland, this morning
Residents clear thick snow from their driveways and vehicles in Consett, County Durham, today as the snow continues to fall
A man brushes snow off a car in Braco near Dunblane this morning as parts of Scotland are hit by blizzards
People walk through a park during heavy snow in Leeds this morning as the West Yorkshire city is hit by flurries
A lorry drives through snow on the A69 near Newcastle this morning as the UK faces severe weather conditions today
Council workmen clear snow from the high street in Consett, County Durham this morning as the flurries continue
An ambulance makes its way along a snowy road today during blizzards in Leeds as flurries hit the West Yorkshire city
Met Office meteorologist Nicky Maxey said on Thursday that unsettled conditions are set to last into next week, and she urged people to be alert for new warnings from the forecaster.
She said: ‘We’ve seen snow leave the M62 Yorkshire area and journeying now into the Vales or Yorkshire. It will push further south as we go through the day, likely to go down to the Midlands but becoming less intense.
Trial over Libby Squire’s death is called off for the day due to heavy snow
The trial of a butcher accused of raping and murdering 21-year-old student Libby Squire has been called off for the day because of the snow.
In the case of Pawel Relowicz, three jurors could not get to Sheffield Crown Court due to the weather, the judge told the members of the panel who could make it in.
‘It becomes more patchy and the chances of it sticking reduce. When we go into tomorrow there may well be an ice warning issued, we are certainly looking at some potential for frost.
‘With the temperatures warming up through the day there’s potential the snow starts melting. If it freezes overnight there’s a chance of frost and ice tomorrow morning.’
In Scotland, families were urged to stay indoors amid a countrywide white-out. Police asked drivers not to travel unless essential and the Government advised those who are on the move to pack warm clothes and food supplies.
The Met Office warned that there is ‘no doubt’ there will be travel disruption in Scotland amid concern for motorists on motorways including the M8, M9, M90 and M74, which lie at the heart of the amber warning area.
Areas such as the Highlands, Grampian, Tayside, Central, Fife, the Lothians, Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders are set for even more severe blizzards.
Oliver Claydon of the Met Office said: ‘These are significant accumulations of snow we are predicting. There is no question we will see travel disruption, particularly on higher routes.’
Local authorities deployed their fleets of gritters in anticipation of the snowfall. Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Matheson said: ‘The Met Office is telling us to expect a period of challenging weather.
Temperatures will be in the low single digits for most of England today, although the South West will get up to 9C
A lorry drives through snow on the A69 near Newcastle this morning as heavy snow falls in parts of the North East
Traffic chaos in the village of Pool-in-Wharfedale near Leeds this morning as snow falls across West Yorkshire today
KFC workers struggle to clear snow to enable customers to access their drive-thru today in Consett, County Durham
A member of staff from Tesco Extra shovels snow outside the store in Hexham, Northumberland, this morning
Cars make their way along the road during snowfall in Leeds this morning as motorists are warned to take extra care
A shopper struggles to drag their trolley through thick snow at Consett in County Durham this morning
A train arrives at Hexham train station in Northumberland this morning as heavy snow and freezing rain batters the UK
A person brushes snow off a car in Braco, near Dunblane in Scotland this morning as blizzard conditions continue
A Waitrose delivery van makes its way along a snowy road in Leeds this morning as West Yorkshire faces flurries today
‘The conditions will likely cause difficult driving conditions and disruption to the wider transport network, so it’s important that anyone that has to make an essential journey during the warning period plans their journey.
‘Pedestrians should also be aware that pavements are likely to be affected by ice, so make sure you use the appropriate clothing and footwear if you have to go out for an essential purpose.’
Police Scotland warned against travelling in the wintry weather. Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock said: ‘Government restrictions on travelling remain in place across Scotland because of the ongoing pandemic.
‘People should not leave their homes unless for essential purposes and work from home where possible. The best way to stay safe is to stay at home.
‘In the current wintry weather please consider if your journey is exempt under the regulations and also if it really is essential and whether you can delay it until the weather improves.’
Very snowy conditions in Leeds this morning as much of northern England is placed under a Met Office weather warning
A snow plough clears the A69 at Stocksfield near Newcastle this morning as the area is hit by blizzard conditions
An Asda supermarket delivery van drives through snow in Braco near Dunblane in Scotland this morning
A snow plough clears the A69 in Stocksfield near Newcastle-upon-Tyne as heavy snow and freezing rain batter the UK
A woman braves the blizzard conditions in Consett, County Durham, this morning as the snow continues to fall
A woman walks through the snow in Braco near Dunblane in Scotland this morning as severe conditions continue
Traffic chaos in the village of Pool-in-Wharfedale near Leeds this morning as a car becomes stuck
Rail workers checking the points at Hexham station in Northumberland in the snow today as a train travels through the area
Firemen from Consett Fire Station dig themselves a path out the building in Consett, County Durham, today after heavy snow
Residents of Consett in County Durham woke to a whiteout scene this morning following heavy snow overnight
Looking ahead, a further warning has been issued for heavy snow this weekend as far south as Leicestershire and Lincolnshire during a warning on Saturday from 3am until 9pm – and some sleet is expected in London.
The heaviest snowfall on Saturday is likely in areas at least 650ft (200m) above sea level, where up to 8in (20cm) could fall. At lower levels, up to 2in (5cm) snow could accumulate – while lower-lying places will see rain.
At the weekend, snow is likely across the whole of northern England, Yorkshire and down through the East Midlands. The Met Office predicts flurries as a band of rain pushing eastwards is due to turn to snow.
Travel disruption, power cuts and disruption to mobile phone coverage are also possible. In its warning for Saturday, which also covers most of Scotland, the Met Office said: ‘A band of heavy snow may lead to disruption.
‘There is a small chance of travel delays on roads with some vehicles and passengers becoming stranded, along with delayed or cancelled rail and air travel. There is a small chance that power cuts will occur.’
A vista of white snow covers a main road in the County Durham town of Consett today as flurries continue this morning
Fire crews from Consett Fire Station dig themselves a path out the building in the County Durham town today after snowfall
A pedestrian walks across a road during blizzard conditions in Consett, County Durham, this morning
A road in the County Durham town of Consett is under a blanket of snow this morning following overnight flurries t
Crews from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service dig out Consett Fire Station in the snow this morning
A snow plough clears the A69 at Stocksfield near Newcastle this morning as heavy snow and freezing rain batter the UK t
A shopper makes her way across the Morrisons car park in Consett, County Durham, as the snow continues to fall today
A mother and her toddler battle the elements as snow starts to fall in Leeds with more flurries on the way today
Snow falls in Leeds this morning with more flurries on the way as the wintry weather continues in West Yorkshire
The snowy approach to Heddon On The Wall St Andrews Church of England First School in Newcastle-upon-Tyne today
The Met Office also warned people could become injured from slips and falls on icy untreated pavements and footpaths. There will be a brief respite during Sunday, which is set to be mostly fine and dry.
The Met Office has issued weather warnings for snow today
But northerly winds through next week will then bring ‘cold conditions from Scandinavia’, the Met Office said.
Its forecast for next week said: ‘Rainfall is also expected for the north with a risk of organised snowfall especially over high ground. Drier in the south with the potential for frontal bands bringing rain and or snow at times. Temperatures are most likely to be rather cold for much of the UK.’
The chilly forecast follows atmospheric changes similar to those which brought the spell of extreme wintry weather known as the Beast from the East three years ago, which brought a lengthy spell of wintry weather and severe snowfall which left Pennine villages cut off.
An unusual meteorological event known as sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) was detected above the North Pole on January 5.
Dr Richard Hall, an expert in SSWs from the University of Bristol, said it ‘loads the dice’ or ‘tips the odds’ in favour of another blast of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures from Siberia.
During an SSW the stratosphere – the layer six to 31 miles above the Earth’s surface – can increase in temperature by up to 50C over a matter of days.
Cars pass through a flood along Hamilton Road in Leicester this morning as parts of Britain are hit by severe weather
Pedestrians walking on a grey and cold rainy morning on a waterlogged Wimbledon Common in South West London today
Commuters cross London Bridge in the heavy rain this morning on what was a very wet start to the day in the capital
A man with an umbrella walks through a near empty Piccadilly Circus in London this morning
Cars pass through a flood along Hamilton Road in Leicester today as the country is hit by severe weather conditions
Cars make their way past a van stuck in floodwater after rain caused flooding on the A127 near Brentwood in Essex today
A busy M1 into Leeds this morning as road conditions worsen due to freezing condition and snowfall in West Yorkshire
Cars pass through a flood along Hamilton Road in Leicester today as the severe weather conditions continue
A wet morning in Cheltenham this morning as rain falls across southern England with more downpours on the way today
This disturbance can travel down through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface and cause shifts in the jet stream, the fast-moving air currents that cool Europe.
Dr Hall said an SSW happens ‘every two years in three’ and one is ‘taking place at the moment’. In 2018, there was an SSW event two weeks before the ‘Beast from the East’ brought 20in (50cm) snowfalls.
But John Griffiths, a Met Office forecaster, has dismissed any link between this week’s weather and the ‘Beast from the East 2’, simply saying the conditions are ‘normal’ for the winter weather cycle.
He said: ‘On Thursday a band of rain, sleet and snow will hit parts of Scotland and northern England, which will slowly extend south to the Midlands as the day progresses.
‘It is expected to be very cold in these areas, dropping below 0C (32F) in Scotland and parts of northern England. This will start to gradually ease and die out during the evening, with frost and freezing fog coming in.’